Re: [asa] Expelled and ID

From: D. F. Siemens, Jr. <>
Date: Sat Apr 26 2008 - 14:42:23 EDT

Let's see. the only source of the notion of a rational Creator producing
a world in which order strictly obtained is the Hebrew scriptures. Both
Greeks and Chinese were careful observers, but included something like
whim in their results. Once somebody got the notion of "thinking God's
thoughts after him," anybody could use the notion in a secular situation.
Except for such nonsense as Lysenkoism, derived from taking Marx as
inerrant, scientific work in the Soviet Union matched that in other

Note that there is a radical difference between devising terminology to
explain a situation and forcing notions contrary to the observations to
fit a dogma. The former fits Mendel, De Vries, Muller, etc., in
developing genetics. The latter is exemplified in Lysenko and ID.
"Methodological naturalism" was devised to describe the activities of
empirical science without excluding philosophical and theological
explanations. It simply notes that "miracle" is not a scientific
category. Thus the Big Bang is a scientific notion, but claiming that
this event was God's creation is not. Claiming that the Big Bang is a
purely materialistic notion is also not scientific.

Where did you get the notion that philosophical descriptors must have a
purely secular purpose?
Dave (ASA)

On Sat, 26 Apr 2008 00:31:44 -0500 "David Clounch"
<> writes:
Its a good question as to whether a notion of scientific methodology
could apply to science before science was invented. The notion was
"potential" in ancient times just as quantum mechanics was a "potential"
 field of knowledge. But it was unrealized (not actual).

Of course I could be proven wrong...sombody just has to show that the
fellow at Wheaton got it from, say, Augustine? Or, lets go before the
Christian era. Got it from, say, the Babylonians?

What is more interesting is that in modern times it was not introduced by
 non-theologians to solve a non-theological problem. For example, if
Chinese communists had developed the idea when arguing a point of
scientific discovery among themselves..well then it clearly would not be
of Christian origin. And would not be intrinsically part of a Christian
belief system. Would it?

Also, if it hadn't been introduced to solve a theological problem, then
even if invented by a Christian, I'd argue it is not a theological
concept. For example, calculus was invented by Christians, but not to
solve theological problems. Calculus therefore isn't theological. But
the fact is, as far as I've heard, methodological naturalism was
introduced explicitly to solve a theological problem. Wasn't it? If so,
seems to me the burden of proof is on the secular advocate to
demonstrate it is not theological. Just because a secular advocate likes
it doesn't change the nature of it.

Please consider the effect of the term. It is used to eliminate certain
religious ideas. And it has impact on certain religious groups. And
impact on issues of ultimate concern. This is not a secular purpose. It
seems it would be very difficult to argue MN has a sole secular purpose.

Dave C (ASA member)

On Fri, Apr 25, 2008 at 1:19 PM, D. F. Siemens, Jr.
<> wrote:

Note Thorson's response to Poe in the March PSCF. Notions exist before
they are labeled, or relabeled with new names. I recall one of my
colleagues in sociology lamenting that some sociologists spent their time
writing papers that renamed notions in the hope that somebody would use
their new label and give them momentary fame.
Dave (ASA)

On Fri, 25 Apr 2008 01:32:04 -0500 "David Clounch"
<> writes:

It would be very interesting for us to discover whether methodological
naturalism was invented in the twentieth century, or whether it has roots
further back in history and was merely borrowed. I could be wrong in
claiming it to have been invented by (De Vries?) at Wheaton. It's just
that I haven't gotten around to discovering any earlier source. As I
remember it, Poe claimed the De Vries paper was the very first
published anywhere.

Other forms of naturalism were obviously re-emergent in enlightenment
and post-enlightenment times. I believe Barr and D'Souza both argue
that naturalism itself is a Christian idea of ancient derivation.
Christians thought a rational approach to the universe combined with a
God that is outside the universe implied that the world runs in a regular
order. Thus paganism and animism were to be rejected, partly because
they depended on supernatural forces within nature. Naturalism
speaks against that.


On Thu, Apr 24, 2008 at 3:13 PM, D. F. Siemens, Jr.
<> wrote:

You're repeating the lie that is foundational in Johnson and ID.
Metaphysical naturalism, scientism, materialism and their ilk have
ancient roots, although some gained popularity again with the
Enlightenment. There is no way that I can be a theist and a metaphysical
naturalist. But there are many theists who are methodological
naturalists--they have to be both to be scientists.
Dave (ASA)

On Thu, 24 Apr 2008 08:56:19 -0400 "David Opderbeck"
<> writes:
Dave Clounch asks: A third question is, "Should school children be
informed of the theological roots of naturalism?"

I respond: Not sure what you mean by the "theological roots of
naturalism" here -- but if you mean that methodolgical naturalism derives
from metaphysical naturalism, if that were accurate, you could probably
discuss this in a history class.

As your questions illustrate, it is extremely difficult in the public
education setting to discuss any issues about religion and science, even
at the level of basic presuppositions.


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Received on Sat Apr 26 14:45:38 2008

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